Aouserd Road

There is paved road going from Dahkla to Aouserd which is a place of minimal significance in the desert. The road is one of those famous birding roads with plenty of wadis along the barren desert road. We were expecting more raptors along the road than what we have seen, a few Kestrels and Long-legged Buzzards.

Long-legged Buzzard
Long-legged Buzzard

Parts of this desert is shrub land, whereas others are – well just sand. We had a long list of Aouserd road specialities to tick off there and we got them all except the Thick-billed Lark which we can get later further north in Morocco.

We decided to make camp at the most famous wadi, called Oued Jenna. If you check that point in eBird, you’ll see that we’re not the first visitors. Awesome to camp under the stars when there is no light pollution whatsoever.

Camels in the dark around the camp
Camels in the dark around the camp

Once the dark settled, we heard the first Golden Nightjars playing. At least two, maybe more. This is a fairly new WP species and AFAWK Oued Jenna is the only place you can get them in WP. We made a recording of the sound at GOLDEN-NIGHTJAR-Oued-Jenna-2017-02-13.mp3

On the other hand, driving back, we passed yet another (unnamed) wadi that looked even better than Oued Jenna, under-birded is probably not an exaggeration. A dutch team from bancdarguin camped on the other side of the road, they shared some whiskey and good company – nice guys. We drove on the road for an hour trying to get a visual to no avail.

Woke at dawn – and it was mist.

Misty camp site in the morning
Misty camp site in the morning

Target birds in the wadi were Cricket Warbler and Sudan Golden Sparrow. The warblers were easy – albeit hard to photograph, whereas the Sudan Golden Sparrow was harder, and we only saw a few.

Cricket Warbler
Cricket Warbler
Sudan Golden Sparrow
Sudan Golden Sparrow

The wadi was also filled with Subalpine Warblers. Felt really good with breakfast after such a morning.

Walked east in the wadi after breakfast and found two Greater Spotted Cuckoos. Soon the heat made us weak and birding was slow. It’s winter there now, however in mid day it’s above 30 degrees.

In the afternoon we went searching for Dunn’s Lark. Some 15 km west of Oued Jenna we found two. Spectacular bird. Hard to find and perfectly adapted to the sand, making it almost invisible. Thank’s Norbert and team for the coordinates.

Dunn's Lark
Dunn’s Lark

Possible future split on this species too. Spent the remainder of afternoon searching for our lacking Aouserd species. Mårten and Erik found a wolf.

Possible African Golden Wolf
Possible African Golden Wolf

This appears to be something extraordinary, we really don’t have a clue here, but it appears as if Birding Frontiers has.

Worst possible dinner in Auserd and then slow driving back to camp in the dark looking for stuff on the road. Lots of mice, Jerboas, lizzards, hares, hedgehogs etc on the road in the night. But then we saw this awsome viper – horns and all.

Saharan Horned Viper
Saharan Horned Viper

What a beauty. Approaching the Oued Jenna, we had a brief glimpse of the Golden Nightjar crossing the road – thus no pics :-( What a day, birding doesn’t get much better.

Tuesday Feb 14, woke a dawn, no mist. Two Auserd species remain, and we start with what we believe is the hardest, but also the most important. The African Desert Warbler. The dutch guys we met earlier had seen it, and entered coordinates on observado.org. We went there and searched for maybe an hour until we found a pair – yellow eyes and all.

African Desert Warbler
African Desert Warbler

Desert birding is truly agreeable, it’s active, you have to search for the birds. You have to walk – which is something we all like.

Desert Birding
Desert Birding

Also, since it’s so barren, there are so few things – the thing you find you ponder upon – like these strange melons that grow. I ate some, and was disgusting. I wonder who eats this – and why.

Melon
Melon

Before giving up on Auserd, we decided to search a little bit more for the Thick-billed Lark. Saw mostly Cream-coloured Coursers and Thick-knees though :-)

Cream-coloured Courser
Cream-coloured Courser
Stone-curlew
Stone-curlew

Mmmmmmmm.

Now back to the north, sleeping at Hotel La Grand Gare at El-Aaiun – capital of West-Sahara.

 

 

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